(3) Tools for Beauty Maintenance

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     Note: I have to blog every day, so I’m open to suggestions.  Have a question, or something you’d like me to write about?  By all means, leave a comment or shoot me an email at piecesofmargo@gmail.com.  You can comment anonymously if you like.  I respond to everything that isn’t transparently abusive.    

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 When you work in the sex industry, every shift is Date Night, meaning that you have to prepare as if you’re getting ready for a hot date with someone you really want to impress.   It’s a chore, but it must be done.  It’s professionalism.  You get paid, in part, to look good.   Most of the clients are middle-aged, middle-class white guys.   They have very narrow and predictable opinions about what constitutes feminine beauty and glamour.  

          The good news is that beauty can be faked with an exaggerated performance of femininity, which means that any woman can do it.   

          The bad news is…well, it’s expensive, tedious, time-consuming, and debasing.  But whatevs.  I’ll save the politics for another day.  

           Here are some indispensable tools to achieve and maintain compliance with heteronormative beauty standards in the commercial dungeon environment (and anywhere else):

Cool and Dry, like Donald Rumsfeld testifying at a 9-11 Congressional Hearing

             Certain Dri.    I don’t know what’s in this shit and I don’t want to know.  It burns like acid and it probably causes birth defects.  It is, however, effective: if you wear it, you will not sweat under your arms (I’ve considered trying it other places, but I’m too afraid).  I do not exaggerate.  Public speaking?  NYC Subways in July?  Cross-dressing client cokehead who keeps asking you to crank up the heat because he’s cold in his satin panties?  Certain Dri has you covered.   Highly recommended.  Get the roll-on, not the stick.  Added bonus: no white deodorant streaks on your good black domme clothes. 

You’ll thank me later.

      Tend Skin    If you shave or wax your crotch (I was going to say ‘bikini area,’ but, really, why be coy?), you need Tend Skin.  This miracle product eliminates bumps, ingrown hairs, and irritation from razor burn.  It really works, and it’s the only thing I’ve ever tried that does.  You don’t need me to tell you how painful and ugly a crotch with ingrown public hairs can be!  It’s hideous and even wearing underwear hurts!  One time, I thought I must have caught genital warts (and I was in a monogamous relationship at the time, too–oh wow), but it was just a stupid hair.  Anyway, I’ve been using this for a few years now, and I haven’t had a problem since.  I have no idea why more people don’t know about it.  They market it to the African-American community, which is how I discovered it.



        Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat.   Unless it’s a special occasion, I refuse to pay a pro to do my nails.  I have to fix chipped polish almost every day.  Seche Vite takes most of the pain out of this considerable inconvenience. It’s expensive, but worth it.  It cures to a hard, high-gloss shine in a minute.  I will never wait for my nails to dry again.  I recommend buying this in the tiny bottles, so that you can finish the product before it becomes thick and difficult to apply. 

Meet your new best friend.

        The Ped Egg   Your feet are worth a lot of money in this business.  You will lose sessions if your feet are not in perfect shape.  Not only will you lose sessions, but the angry Russian manager will scream at you and call you a disgrace as a mistress.  I’m serious.  Get yourself a Ped Egg and make friends with it, because you’re going to be spending a lot of quality time together…especially in the summertime, when you run around New York in flip-flops and sandals.  Use it over a trash can so you don’t get gross dead skin flakes all over.  When you’re done Ped-Egging, slather your feet in vasaline before bed and sleep in a pair of old socks.  

         All-Metal Razor w/Mach 3 Blades   Do yourself a favor and stop shaving with cheap pink plastic disposable razors.   If you have to shave most of your body hair every day for the rest of your life, you might as well get serious about it.  Men have the best shaving gear.  Appropriate it.  An all-metal razor is an investment, but it saves money in the long run.  The shave is excellent and the weight of the tool lends a gravitas to the activity, turning it from a chore into self-care.  

Maybelline NY Eye Stiletto Liquid Eyeliner.   This is the best liquid eyeliner you can get at the drug store.  It works perfectly and lasts until you wash it off.  Application is as easy as it’s ever going to get with liquid eyeliner.  Everyone I know who tries it keeps using it.  

Alpha Hydrox Skin Lightener w/Hydroquinone   I was on hormonal birth control for ten years, and it gave me mild melasma.   I am fucking furious that doctors don’t tell women that this is a side effect when they prescribe the medication (“Melasma is a very common and well-known side affect!  I see it all the time!” said the dermatologist who diagnosed me.  “I mean, it’s textbook!“).   Hydroquinone and Retin-A cured it in about nine months.  It takes a long time to see results, because the skin has to go through a few cycles, but it works.  Now I use it on my hands, underneath sunscreen, every day.   You are wearing sunscreen every day, aren’t you? 

        Berkshire Stockings and Thigh-Highs.    Under no circumstances are you to wear cheap Leg Avenue shit from the local Adult DVD porn store!  You know exactly what I’m talking about!  Leg Avenue is terrible!  I have no idea how they cornered the sex worker market!  Berkshire is the best hosiery on the market at that price point.  It looks much more expensive than it is, actually, and the material has a nice slippery feel.  Good color selection.  It costs less to buy it online, but if you need to get it in a hurry, the hosiery/intimates store in Penn Station, Elegance, has a deep stock in all colors.  

        Crest Whitestrips.  Because you’re not a real American unless your teeth are as white as the inside of a refrigerator.  The strips work.  

Car Shopping UPDATED!

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    UPDATE:  I am now the proud owner of a late-90s Toyota Camry.  It is the same age as my students this semester.  I’m taking it to be smogged and then registered at the DMV this Saturday…

     …and then, my friends, I am released upon an unsuspecting public. 

      This is going to be a busy month for me.  I’m moving into my own place in March.  I’ve also decided that this is going to be the last semester I teach college as an adjunct professor, unless I decide to come back and teach later in life for sentimental reasons.  I don’t know why I’ve suddenly found it in me, after years of painful denial, to put a bullet in my academic ambitions, but I have…and it’s time.  Scholarship is my vocation, but the profession at this level is a dead-end job.  Time to sacrifice the dream on the alter of reality.  

      Time for a new dream.  Something New and Improved.  Dream Redux!  The Dream is Dead.  Long Live the Dream.  
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 I have six- (maybe 😎 month plan.  I’ve hammered it out over a few weeks and recently put it on paper.  I just spent an hour and a half going over it with my counselor (I hired a new one.  She specializes in addiction recovery and doesn’t give a fuck about Freud.  She’s all about goals.  That’s fine.  I can explore my neuroses back in New York).  

         To get back to New York, I need at least $10K when I land.  $15K would be better.  First + Last months’ rent + security + broker’s fee…I’m looking at $6K just to move in, and more like $8k if the landlord wants more money up front.  I’m also going to have to fly back there at least twice to find the apartment and, hopefully, to go to job interviews.  I can stay with friends while I’m there, but the airfare is $600 per trip.

       I have to make money.

       To do that, I need a car.  It can no longer be avoided.  I’m riding to class after I get done at my office monkey job, and it’s cold and dangerous in the dark, not to mention the fact that if I get hit by a car and die, I could be the biggest joke ever: impoverished college instructor dies riding bike to school she graduated from 7 years ago!  Dead in a snowbank in my tweed jacket, surrounded by scantrons and graded bluebooks!  No fucking thank you!

         I need a car.

         I no longer have a driver’s license…I didn’t need one in New York!  I let my old one expire and just got a NY State ID card instead.  I couldn’t foresee a time that I would have to drive.  I hadn’t driven in years!

         Well, I went to the DMV, and they told me that they would not give me a local driver’s license because I didn’t return the license plates when I sold my last car.  I was in the process of moving and I just didn’t do it because I was lazy and irresponsible. It’s taken me about five hours on the telephone and $200 in fines to get this cleared up, but I should have a license this Saturday.

        Then I need a car.  I need a car so that I can commute between jobs and go to job interviews for a better job than the office monkey job.  And to get in trouble

        I am moving into my own apartment in March.  April at the latest.  I can’t live with my mother anymore.  I could move out now, but the car comes first.

        What kind of car can I get for $2000–$2500?  I don’t care that it’s going to be old and decrepit, only that it’s reliable, because I can’t afford to take it to the auto shop.  It needs to last eight months.  I’m thinking a Honda or a Subaru.  All my cars have been Hondas.  Those riceburners are tanks.  My first car was a 1984 Honda Accord.  It looked exactly like this, only I didn’t have tacky chrome rims (who puts chrome rims on a fuckin Honda Accord?): 

           It was a tin can and it would shake over 55mph, and I couldn’t go faster than that going over the mountains, but that it was mechanically sound.  It worked PERFECTLY.  Nothing broke, ever (well, the AC quit, but it was like that when I bought it).  

         Let me crowdsource this one: if you had to buy a car for less than $2500, what would you buy?  I don’t care what it looks like.  I just want it to be reliable.  What is the best car I could buy for my purposes?

         Car.  Apartment.  Another job.  Secret job

       P.S.  More Sexy Stuff in the next installment.

      P.P.S.  NAPA THIS WEEKEND!  I’m all packed.  I sneaked one of my sexy leather domme outfits into the bag so that I can do the doubles session with my friend.

A Thousand and One Pieces of Margo: The Best & Favorites, Cont’d

       This is the continuation of the previous post…

       Hunters, written a year ago in a fit of melancholy and homesickness.  

       Political Theater: Tales from a Submissive Intern  When I was a very young woman, I won (through merit) an internship with the office of a well-known politician, a homely and ill-tempered fellow who loves power and intimidation.  My experience here–my emotional reaction and sexual response to the politician’s cruelty–is interesting, because it augers what I will gravitate toward in later adulthood. 

      Boots as Inspiration, About my weird attraction to boots.  I really like this blog post: part memoir, part theory, a few very well-written lines, and some provocative art.  It’s a nice little Margo-capsule.  I also like it because most of the stuff I’ve read about boot fetishism on the internet comes from the  the gay male demographic.  Het sub males write a little, too.  I don’t find much from women. 

     A Map of the Pain   NSFW.  Not pornographic but careful where you view it!  Written in 2011 almost immediately after the Surgeon visited me in my apartment and we had a pretty intense sex/corporal session.  I was newly sober, about 80 days clean, for the first time since I started drinking alcoholically.  I was high off the sex and the beating and the meeting.  I remember taking the photos very well.   Good times.  
   No Rest for the Wicked  Penniless and desperately seeking to replace a stolen jar of salsa, I contact a random sad old white guy on Craigslist and ride my bike across town to sell him my worn-out ballet flats.  My first home-town outcall session.  Everything about this story is completely ridiculous.   

        Mind-Fucking  It’s not a popular post, but I like it.  It’s…contemplative.  

        Failing the Geography Exam  Meet Franz Alder: the secret to my academic success, and why I ate two Antabuse this evening.

        The Adler Family Menorah   My German Catholic mother buys a hugeass honkin silver Menorah at a garage sale.  It now dominates the dining-room table.  

         The Surgeon at War  My Ex has a decades-long, mysterious, highly personal vendetta against another physician.  He’s sued the guy several times, humiliated his proteges at conferences, had my seduce the guy in a bar….it goes on and on.   Successfully headhunting one of his enemy’s staff was the Coup of 2012.  I had great sex for months.  

Where I Get It From

       I took the 2-liter bottle of Diet Coke out of the fridge and poured all but the last half-inch into a glass full of ice.

        My mother came into the kitchen to observe me.  Her little dog stood at her feet.  The dog has warmed up to me a lot, but it really loves only her.  

       “Finish the soda,” Mom said.

        “The stuff at the very bottom is flat and gross, though,” I said.

         “No wasting!  Drink it all!”

         I frowned and held the bottle up it front of my face, shaking it. NO FOAM.  I said: “But I don’t want to drink it.  Look, it’s no good.”

         “Well, you can’t open a new soda until you finish this one.  I don’t like to waste.”

          “Momma!  We have six bottles of soda in the garage!  It’s only $.99!  It’s not wasting!”

           “Finish it.”

           I eyed my glass and the remainder of liquid in the bottle.

           “It’s making me feel weird that you’re watching me,” I said.  Because she was.  Watching me like a hawk.

            “I need to be sure you don’t pour it down the sink,” she said.

            I sighed and took a drink from the glass to reduce the liquid content.  Then I poured the last of the soda into the glass.

            “There.  It’s done.”

            She smiled and picked up her dog.  They went to watch TV.

I Got a Job. My First 9-5.

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      I got the job I got the job I got the job
      I got the job I got the job I got the job
      No longer a member of the lumpenproletariat…I have been restored to my rightful place in the economy as an underpaid temporary worker!

      The interview was easy.  I remembered the most important tactic in interviewing for jobs that do not explicitly require my feedback, intellectual opinion, or acumen: shut the fuck up.  

       That’s what you do.  You shut up and let them to almost all of the talking (it’s a bit like dining with a client).  They call it an interview, but it’s really not.  

         I sat perched in my chair like a bright little bird, paying close attention but trying not to overdo the eye contact.  I kept a smile of the appropriate dim wattage on my face and spoke only when spoken to.  I assured them that I did not feel overqualified to code their spreadsheets or edit their emails.  

        “You know there are no benefits,” she said.  To her credit, she seemed nice today.  A middle-aged blonde lady from Michigan. 

          I wanted to say, sarcastically, “That’s what Medicaid is for!” but instead I just gave a small shrug and said that I understood the job was temporary, and I was young and healthy and childless.  That’s what they really care about, you know, though it’s illegal to ask it now: they want a nice strong reliable worker bee with no family drama and no entitlement issues. 

           They hired me on the spot and gave me a tour of the office and the warehouse.  It was okay.  It was not the most depressing office I’ve ever worked in, at all.  There were plants.  Windows.  I could hear Italians speaking in their weird European language somewhere.  

           It could be worse.  It’s the sort of job, actually, that I would have gladly worked at as an undergraduate: a living wage, indoors, using a tiny bit of my skills and brain (just a tiny bit).  No risk of repetitive stress injuries.  I’ve had it worse.  

          But it’s been a long, long time since I’ve had a 9 to 5.   Years.  Years and years.  Since before New York.  Since before grad school.  

           Actually, now that I think of it….I’ve never had a 40-hour office job.  I’ve had two or three part-time jobs at once, and a lot of freelance work…and, of course, all the work in the Biz. 

          Can I hack it, however temporarily, as a common American wage slave, squandering more of my rapidly diminishing youth editing emails for office-supply-peddling Dagos?  

           I start tomorrow at 8 AM. 


Meeting Elder Travis (updated)

Update: I am hampered by bureaucratic fuckery.    

              The good news is: the unemployment agency actually seems to offer some promising leads and programs.  

              The bad news is: I don’t know if I qualify for it.

              A significant part of its funding comes from the State government.  Consequently, it has to keep meticulous records of the clients it services, and turn those records over to the state.  

               After two hours of talking with them and filling out eleven pieces of paperwork, I was told that I did not qualify because I quit my last straight jobs at the college and tutoring center.  Apparently quitting your job is not allowed if you expect to get any employment help from the state, even if it’s through a 3rd-party organization.  Apparently, you have to be fired or laid off. 

              “Are you serious?” I asked.  “Because you receive state funds, I’m not allowed to utilize your program because I quit my jobs?  I didn’t do anything wrong!  It’s not like I walked out and left em hanging!  I fulfilled the hours in my contract and gave advanced notice!  But if I got fired for incompetency, I could stay here?”

              My case manager shrugged sheepishly and said he was sorry, but he didn’t make the rules.

               “Why couldn’t you tell me this on the phone and save us both the time, not to mention all these dead trees from the wasted paper?!” I asked.

              “Well, we can’t know you’re not qualified until we really get the details of your case.”

                I knew that was bullshit.  They wanted me to come in and fill out the paperwork so that they could maximize the number of potential clients who wanted to use their service in their annual reports to the state.  It helped secure their grants and funding. 

               “Hey!” he brightened.  “There is a loophole!  Have you received unemployment benefits any time in the last five years?  Any time?”

              “No!  I was in school and then I was self-employed!”

              “Oh.”  He slumped.

              “You’re telling me that I’d be eligible if I had unemployment benefits?” 

               “Yeah. The problem is, if you quit your job voluntarily, the government says you’re basically on your own.  You brought in on yourself.”

               “But if I was fired and took benefits I’m deserving? I could apply for welfare but not employment programs?” 

                He perked up again:  “Actually, that’s another loophole!  If you apply for welfare and get into the (workfare) program, you could do it here!  I know someone in the welfare office!  Do you have any dependent children?  Do you get food assistance?”

                “No!  I live with my mother!”

                “Does she work?  How much money does she make?”

               “I don’t know!  She’s retired!”

              “Well, I hope that she doesn’t make too much, or else you won’t be eligible.”

               “No offense, sir, but do you know what this is like?  It feels like I’m in a Monty Python skit about bad bureaucracy.  I can’t get into an employment program because I don’t have benefits which I never applied for, but apparently I am still the “undeserving” unemployed.  This is a little crazy.”

                He gave me the business card of a social worker in the welfare office: “Go apply for cash assistance.  She will try to dissuade you.  They don’t want people signing up.”

               “Oh, I know how it is,” I said, thinking that I wrote the book on poverty-reduction legislation since welfare reform.  Or a few papers, at least.

                 “She’ll try to send you back here.  We’ll do it so that she manages your case, but you still get to come here and use our service.  If we can pull it off.  It’ll take some bureaucratic wrangling.”

                  So this week I have to make an appointment with this social worker at the welfare office for the express purpose of applying for cash assistance, being rejected, and then being rerouted back to the employment agency I was just at this morning. 


                                 *                      *                   * 

This morning I have an appointment with a small employment agency that supposedly specializes in helping people with advanced college degrees find jobs outside of academia.  I side-eyed it pretty hard and tried to learn where it was getting its funding, because unless you’re in medicine or law or at the local colleges the only other major industries around here that really need people with  +Master’s degrees are the Air Force, PR agencies, and an awful lab company that experiments on animals.   No offense, but I would rather sweep floors or suck dick for money than update the charts of hundreds of white rats every day and then kill them with CO2.   The Surgeon had to do that in med school and it made a very negative impression on it, and he is not what I would call a sensitive human being.

        This morning I was awoken by my mother’s little dog playing with her squeaky toy.  I really want to make an audio recording of the squeak toy so that all of my 8 readers can share in the fun.  The dog considers the squeak toy to be the pinnacle of entertainment and will squeak it until someone takes it away from her.  You usually have to give her a food treat to make her drop it, too, because otherwise she runs away from you and can’t be caught.  I know.  I have tried.  In my PJs, I have tried.  The dog just runs under the couch and stares at you, squeaking even more, tail wagging triumphantly. 

         I ironed one of my nice skirts and a blouse.  I will be dressed up like I am going to work, except that I will not actually be going to work.  This is very demoralizing.  

         I do have something exciting planned for tomorrow afternoon, however!  

         Margo has…a date.  

         Of sorts.  The guy doesn’t know it yet.

         A young Mormon fellow named “Elder Travis.”  I met him yesterday evening when he knocked on my door with a friend to inquire about my relationship with God.

        Mormons irritate the hell out of me and my default response is to tell them that I’m Catholic (it seems like kinder let-down than telling them the truth), wish them well, and then shut the door in their faces.  The Mormon missionaries and young and strong and I don’t feel badly for them (there was an old Jehova’s Witness who making the rounds one day when it was 103* outside.  He was wearing a wool suit and looked miserable, so I gave him a bottle of water.  It was a nice thing to do, but it just encouraged him and he started sending church ladies over).   

          Anyway, the Mormons rang last night.

          “Hi, Guys.  How can I help you?” I asked, even though I was pretty sure I already knew.  They’d parked their bikes in the driveway and they were wearing their little Mormon uniforms: black pants, supernerd short-sleeved perma-creased synthetic-material white buttondowns, black neckties, little name-plates.  I gave them an in instead of immediately offering the rejection because I supposed it was possible that they needed to ask directions or use the phone to call someone.  

           “Hello, Miss.  How are you today?”

           “Fine, thanks.  Do you need something?”  I wasn’t even really looking at them.  I was waiting for the opportunity to close the door.  Once I saw that they were missionaries, I stopped paying attention.  Mitt Romney himself could have been standing in front of me, and I wouldn’t have see him.  

          “Do you go to church around here?” the one closest to me asked.

           It was then that my mother’s little dog squirmed past my leg and ran out onto the patio.  She began to sniff their shoes excitedly, tail wagging.  Fortunately, there was no squeaky.  

          I called the dog and told her to come in.  She did not listen to me.  This dog does not obey anyone but my mother.

          I apologized to the guys and said that she was friendly (she is a sweet dog, and somewhat well-behaved for all her antics–she wasn’t jumping on them or anything) and stepped out to get her.

            Well, she wasn’t having any of that.  She decided it was time to play RUN AWAY.

           The Mormons, no fools they, knew an opportunity to ingratiate themselves when they saw it, and started chasing the little dog around the lawn for me.  For a cat-sized creature with little stumpy weasel legs, she gets around very fast, and led the boys on a merry chase around the rose bushes.  It was quite a sight to see.  The old Pakistani lady across the street came out of her house to watch (that chick does neighborhood surveillance like the Stasi in 1982, man.  Life in suburbia.  The East Village, it’s not–I lived three years in the same apartment and didn’t know the names of a single neighbor).  

              The dog ran back past me to retrieve one of her tennis balls, and I slammed the screen on her.  

             Slamming the door on the Mormons, though, was going to be a trick.   They’d just chased my dog.  I did not want to be a jerk.

            “Sorry about that,” I said.  I offered them bottles of water.  I decided that I’d give em water and then pretend that I had to make an important phone call and close the door.

            I gave them the water while they were tucking their shirts back in.  That was when I actually took a good look at the bigger one closest to me.

           Boy, maybe I’ve been without the real thing for too long or maybe the heat and boredom around here has baked my brain, and I think Mormons are probably the least attractive quasi-Christian group I can think of, but I’m telling you: this kid was beautiful.  BEAUTIFUL!  He looked like he fell out of an Ambercromie ad!  And I don’t even like young guys! 

            I squinted at his name tag.  “Elder Travis?  ‘Elder’ to who?  How old is your congregation, 12?”

            They glanced at each other and then confirmed that they were, in fact, from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

           Long story short (I have to get ready to go to the job agency): I invited them both over tomorrow to discuss my relationship with Jesus Christ.  That’s how the Mormons do it, you know: they use Jesus to get in the door, like they’re regular Christians or something.   I’ll have to park em in the den where they can’t see the Virgin Mary on the wall.  

            I have a new Summer recreation project.

John’s Annual Background Check

     Many times, I’ve thought about whether to tell the story about my relationship with John, my restraining-order Ex, on this blog.  I’ve written bits and pieces along the way, mostly about his stalking me after I left him.  Eventually, I’ll write about him, but I still haven’t got the emotional fortitude.  

       I do, however, have a SHORT John story that’s worth sharing.  I’m sharing it because I think it’s funny, and also as a warning to nice, normal, mostly-well-adjusted people that there are people like this out there.

       Over the weekend, I paid for a background check on John.  I do this every year (and the first five years after the relationship ended, I did it TWICE per year).  I don’t do the background check to be creepy or invasive–I don’t give a shit what he’s up to, and I certainly don’t try to contact him in any way. I do it so that I know where he is.  I would not feel safe knowing that he lived in the same city as myself.  

        I started out with the Google.  The first thing that came up when I Googled his name is that he is living in a $20 million condo on Central Park West, here in Manhattan.

         Huh, I thought.  That’s weird.  His family had some money–I was with him when he folks died, and they left him a gorgeous condo that had to be sold to share with his brother, and about $1.5 million in inheritance.   That’s a lot of money by any objective standard, but it’s not Central Park West.

         Maybe he got married, I thought.  Maybe he married a really rich woman. I supposed it was possible, even though any woman with that sort of money ought to know how to protect it from a scam artist like John, unlike naive 20-year-old Margo here (I was 20 when I met John). 

         I continued to Google.  I found an online resume John had posted on a professional social-networking site. 

         His official job title…?  “President and CEO.”

          Oh, this is going to be good, I thought to myself, and whipped out the credit card, because it was time for the paid background check.  

         The one that tells you the truth

        The one that I should’ve run the minute I started to get serious with him, because it would have saved me years in an absolutely hellish relationship with a narcissistic con artist who makes the Surgeon look like Boyfriend of the Year and Outstanding Humanitarian.  The one I didn’t run until my lawyer did it for me, when I was selling all my shit and moving to a secure, undisclosed location because I was worried John was going to blow my fucking head off.  The background check that showed that John had lied about many things in his past, including where he had worked, where he went to school, and whether his ex-wife had a restraining order against him.

          The background check is a little pricey, but I recommend it.  I will run it on every man I get serious with in the future.  I learned how important it was the hard way.

        Annnnd…..two days later, the results came back.

        John does not live on Central Park West, and he is President and CEO of nothing.

         He is unemployed, or self-employed (doing what? he can’t practice law in California!), and living in a very modest tract house in Truckee, California.  He is a ski bum who sponges off his relatives. 

         Now…nice, normal, mostly well-adjusted readers will be asking themselves: Why would he lie?  Why is there fictitious, self-aggrandizing information about him on the internet?

       Because he’s sick.  Because he’s pathetic.  Because he’s trying to control appearances.   Because he’s meeting women out there in Truckee, and telling them that the house he’s living in is a rental (which it is! HA HA!), and he actually has a $30 million condo on Central Park West, in New York.

       And they will believe him, because it’s on the internet, and he’s got business cards, and correspondence with law firm letterheads on it, and he obviously grew up in New York.  I mean, until it happens to you, you just don’t expect people to fabricate huge parts of their personal history out of thin air.  

         You don’t expect someone to look you in the face and lie to you.  Especially when you mean them no harm, and are being honest with them.

         Learn from my mistake, Ladies.   The background check is your friend.  Men like this are out there (and, to be fair, I’m sure there are women running these cons, too).   

        Don’t let a man like John happen to you.

       P.S.  This is petty, but I admit it: I derive tremendous satisfaction knowing that he is broke, because I’m sure that he finds that humiliating.  WHAT A LOSER. 

Would You Take a Used Liberator?

    This has nothing to do with Easter Sunday, but it was so weird that I had to give it a quick blog post…

     Not one hour ago, I was walking to the drug store on the corner when I saw a Liberator sitting on top of an overflowing trash can.

      If you’re not in the know, a Liberator is sex furniture manufactured for yuppies.  You can read all about it if you can endure reading their cheesy website, but essentially, it is a wedge-shaped piece of foam ostensibly used for comfort and support during sex.  I don’t have one myself–the humble pillow has always worked for me–but I know what they are because Rolling Stone magazine has run Liberator ads for years.

      So there it was, in a New York City trashcan: someone’s used Liberator.  It was definitely used.  Looked a little ratty.  Well, I hope it brought someone(s) lots of happiness.

“Bedroom Adventure Gear,” puh-LEEZE!  AMATEURS

       I almost took a photo of it with my cell phone, because I thought it was funny.  I really wish I would have.

       I walked on, did my shopping, and then made for home.  On the way, I decided that I’d take a picture of the trashed Liberator after all.  I thought it would make an amusing Tweet.

       But guess what…?  GUESS WHAT HAPPENED?

        WHILE I WAS IN  THE STORE, SOMEBODY TOOK THAT USED, RATTY LIBERATOR!  It wasn’t in the trash can anymore!

       Now, I’m no germophobe–I’m really not–but that is just GROSS.  I wouldn’t use it even if I had it professionally cleaned!  

       I am praying, praying, that the person who took that Liberator was its original owner, who decided that he just couldn’t bear to part with it.  

       The alternative is too gruesome to think about. 

       I don’t care about celebrities, aside, perhaps, from my boyfriend Liam Neeson, but this cracked me up, so I’m posting it.  I can’t decide whether Twitter is great, or the biggest waste of time ever.  I definitely think it’s fun, though. 


         Now I am going to run to the Frick.  Fortinbras is sending me on another art scavenger hunt.  I am hoping to go out to dinner with Heinrich when he gets off work.  I haven’t seen him in a while and I’d like to catch up, and it would be kinda sad to spend Easter Sunday alone and watching House.  

        (Actually, I wouldn’t watch House.  Errol Morris just made a documentary about Donald Rumsfeld, and you can stream in on Amazon.  Morris’s film on Robert McNamara, The Fog of War, is one of my favorite movies.  I watch it once a year.  


      I have two more weeks of rehab, and then I’m going to visit my mother if I can afford plane tickets.  

On Not Being Worldly (and Why It Matters)

Update 3/26/14  7:00 AM:  
     BUMPED this blog post because of the excellent comments thread.  Go read it (grumpyoldswitch’s final postings are in reverse order).  I wish my blog had more than 8 readers.    I invite anyone who has an opinion to weigh in.  You may comment anonymously.

                *                                  *                                * 

 Both of my parents grew up in poverty that would be nearly unimaginable today.  When I hear that the Germans had the best education system in the world at that time, I am a little skeptical, because my grandparents were pretty uneducated, parochial, and suspicious of anything cosmopolitan.  I mean, decades in the US and they wouldn’t try to eat spaghetti or a fucking taco. I am surprised the US let them in.

     My father was sensitive about being a poor boy and tried to become middle class.  For a while, he even succeeded.  He had a lot of native intelligence and graduated college.  After the Army and the Peace Corps, he taught History and German while studying for an advanced degree.  Readers will know that teaching would not be the best fit for Franz Adler’s, uhh, personality.  That didn’t work out very well. Then the wheels started to come off when he was about the age I am now.  He couldn’t hold it together.  He became homeless for a time and was institutionalized.  We were on welfare.  When I was old enough to work, I supported him.

     My mother got a decent job and worked very, very hard.  She now enjoys a modest but comfortable retirement.  She does not discuss her childhood.  There are no pictures of it in the home and I don’t know my grandfather’s name or what he looked like.  I do know that my mother, like her many siblings, was born at home.  

     I’m very well-educated and my parents taught me good manners, so I can pass myself off as being middle-class, but, really, I’m not.

     My Ph.D. program was full of comparatively rich kids and the professors were pretty well-off, too.  My best friend there was a fellow hick from the provinces.  We had many long conversations discussing culture shock.  Then I started working at my secret job and I met the Surgeon, and I started spending a lot of time with rich people.  Rich men, specifically.  

      It was an interesting experience.  Rich people never intimidated me, because I am educated.  But one thing that struck me, over and over again, was just how little I knew about the things that these men took for granted. 

       The Surgeon grew up upper-middle class and he’s an insane social climber.  Now he has millions of dollars.  He was constantly shocked at all the things I didn’t know.  He thought it was funny, but it also concerned him, actually–he was frightened for me at times–and he started going out of his way to teach me things that he thought I needed to know about the world.  

         The first time I got a nice suit, I thought that the pockets were fake.  I was actually complaining about it at school (“$200 for a suit, and it doesn’t have pockets!”) and one of my professors pulled me aside and gently showed me that the pockets were there, they were just sewn shut. 

        The first time I flew on an airplane, I took out my wallet to pay for the meal.  This was when meals were inclusive.  The stewardess looked at me like I was crazy.

       I did not know what a Roth IRA was.  I did not know how the stock market worked.  I did not know how to buy a stock.  I was completely ignorant of all banking terms.  I understood the primary mechanisms of capitalism because I’d read a lot of Karl Marx.  It was all theory.  I had absolutely no practical experience with anything involving money. If you handed me $200,000 in cash and told me that I had to buy a house, I wouldn’t have the slightest idea what to do or where to go.

       One thing that made me angry during the housing crisis was seeing all these rich priviliged blowhards on TV screaming and complaining about all the stupid poor people buying houses they couldn’t afford.  What they don’t understand is that when you’re poor, nobody ever teaches you this stuff.  Fixed or adjusted rate mortgage?  What?  Three-quarters of Americans don’t graduate from college.  We are a nation of innumerates.  Really poor people can’t even read a bus schedule.  How the fuck are they supposed to avoid getting taken advantage of by a credit card company?

       Another thing you have to remember about growing up and living poor is that you are absolutely at the mercy of the institutions that control your life.  Cops tell you what to do, the courts tell you what to do, the welfare office tells you what to do, schools tell you what to do, the banks tell you what to do, the IRS tells you want to do, and, of course, your boss and the church tells you what to do.  You get used to it.  One thing that shocked me–astonished me, really–about observing the behavior of wealthy people, or even middle-class people, was their contempt for authority, and they way that they felt free to do whatever the fuck they wanted.   Cause they do.  They don’t ask for permission to do things a million times a day.  They certainly don’t have to ask their boss at work if they can take a bathroom break.  It’s easy to be powerful in the world if you have that mindset.  The Surgeon was absolutely gobsmacked at the way I would calmly accept it when someone told me “no.”  Can I get a late check-out at the hotel?  No?  Oh, all right then.  I wasn’t used to fighting for things, or getting what I wanted, with the exception of my academic success.  All the cultural factors and institutions in my upbringing socialized me to work hard to earn what I want, and to be obedient, and to respect authority.  When you’re poor and vulnerable, resistance means that you’re out of a job or you’re in jail.  

    (Incidentally, I think one of the reasons rich people hate the IRS and paying taxes so much is that they HATE the idea of an institution forcing them to do something, or having power over them.  They HATE that shit.  That is how used they are to having power in life.  Remember that hilarious scene in The Wolf of Wall Street, when DiCaprio throws the Federal Agents off his yacht and throws lobsters at them?  The Surgeon would definitely throw a lobster.  Definitely. If a Federal Agent knocked on my door, I’d have a heart attack and tell him whatever he wanted.)

Wow, look at all the stuff I can write when I’m not drunk.

Creepy Dad Creeps on Margo


 The father of a boy I tutor asked me out on a date.  

        He is married.  He asked me out when I was in his home.   Where he lives with his wife.  After I was finished teaching his kid.

        Now, imposing yourself on the female hired help has long been a beloved recreational pastime of rich dudes.  I supposed I shouldn’t be surprised.  I’ve had many an employer creep on me in my day, though, to be fair, what most of them do is just hover around, checking me out and making excuses to talk to me, which makes me a little nervous and also embarrasses the hell out of me if he’s doing it in front of his children (last time, this boy actually said, “Dad would you please leave us alone?” I wanted to die.).  

        If this happened in an office job, I could deal with it in a more direct fashion, since it’s a textbook case of sexual harassment.  Buuuut…I’m an independent contractor.  

         Getting out of it required some quick thinking.  The default face-saving rejection is to mention a fictitious boyfriend, but in this case, creepy Dad almost certainly would have backtracked or acted offended and assured me that he “didn’t mean it like that,” or something.  Likewise, I couldn’t be honest and tell him that I found the offer pretty fucking offensive, given that he was making it in front of a wall full of his family photos.  
         “No, thanks,” I said, giving him a fake smile of appropriately dim wattage. 

         A man who was not an idiot or an entitled asshole would have accepted that and backed off (but then, if he had the tact or decorum god gave a goat, he wouldn’t have hit on me in the first place).

         Dad of the Year here actually asked me (get this): “Are you sure?”

        The next time a man asks me “Are you sure?” “Why not?” or pressures me to reverse my decision or explain myself to him is going to get punched in the eye with my phone.  A nice hard-shelled cell phone to the eye socket.  For feminism. 

       The elevator arrived, deus ex machina-like, and delivered me from the awkward predicament.

       I stewed about it for a week, very annoyed and exasperated about being put in such a situation.  Now I can’t be comfortable with dad around.  And dad’s always around.  He’s there every week!  I might as well be teaching him! 

       What to do, what to do…?

        I almost wished that I had the Surgeon around for consultation.  He always gave me good advice about how to deal with people.  He was an expert at manipulating situations. 

       I tried to imagine what he would advise, and I came up with two things: 1) shake dad down, and/or 2) be a completely aggressive, unapologetic, massive dickhead and scare the shit out of dad.  No scruples.  Make shit up.  Say I recorded dad with my cell phone.  Say that if dad fires me, I’ll tell everyone that he tried to kiss me.

       (That’s what the Surgeon always told me when I complained to him about my old boss, the Dean of my program: “Don’t be intimidated by him.  If you tell people he tried to kiss you in his office one day, he’ll be up to his neck in bureaucratic horseshit for the next twelve months.”

        “But he never tried to kiss me!”

       This was met with a sigh and a contemptuous eyeroll.  Then he said, “Remember this moment, kid.  This sort of thinking is the reason why you are smart and beautiful, but poor.  You don’t understand how the world works.  Fuck this guy.  You don’t owe him, or your school, jack shit.  He’s using you.  If he gets in your way, land on him like an avalanche.”

        “Surgeon, he’s my boss, and I’m on a scholarship.”

        “I’m your boss.”)

       Anyway, getting back to dad, here.  You might not believe it, given that I make a living as a professional sadist, but in regular life I am actually pretty bad at being a massive dickhead.  I just don’t think that I could pull off option #2.   And even if I did pull it off, I would feel guilty about it.   

        That left #1.

         I politely informed dad that from now on, my hourly fee has increased by $75.  That increase is his “I-fucked-up” tax (I didn’t say that to him, but we both know what it is).

        I’m waiting to hear back from him, but I think he’ll pay.  He’s a lawyer, so presumably he’s a smart guy when he doesn’t have a boner in his pants.  There is the hint of a threat in my request.  I’d never act on it…but he doesn’t know that. 

        I’ll update as soon as I get his response.

        Something else just occurred to me: what if his kid overheard dad asking me out?  That would be fucked up, wouldn’t it?  Gee, creepy dad, that was just so irresponsible.